German Support of the War Against Iraq

by Tobias Pflüger MEP

The German Federal Government did not send its own soldiers to Iraq, but did everything else to enable the USA, Great Britain and their allies to carry out the war against Iraq.

1. Intelligence Assistance

If we simply look at the revelations of the last days and weeks regarding the Federal Intelligence Service in Baghdad, it again becomes clear that the former German Chancellor Schröder and Foreign Minister Fischer pursued a dual strategy at that time. While the federal elections of 2002 were won by the appealing "Peace Chancellor", Franz-Walter Steinmeier, formerly responsible for the German secret service and currently the German Foreign Minister, gave the green light to the reconnaissance of Iraqi war targets for the US army.

2. Military Bases

It was vital, that the war could be carried out undisturbed from the British and US military bases situated in Germany. Important in this respect were the, in the meantime now closed, Rhine-Main airbases in Frankfurt, Ramstein and Spangdahlem, Rhineland-Palatinate. The Federal Republic of Germany was logistically a central and pivotal point in the Iraq war. Planes headed for the middle east and stocked with soldiers, weapons, ammunition, and other supplies took off day and night from the US Airforce base Ramstein in Rhineland-Palatinate. Supplies and troops were however also transported over sea. The British army utilised the East Friesian harbour Emden to ship its units. The EUCOM in Stuttgart-Vaihingen played a central role for the logistics of the US forces. The major part of the reinforcements for the forces in the Gulf were transferred at the airbases Ramstein and Frankfurt/Rhine-Main, and heavy military equipment, such as tanks, was transported by ship towards the North Seas via the Rheinau harbour in Mannheim.

3. Relief through stand-by troops

As of the 24th January 2003, the SPD-Green coalition had assigned a total of up to 4,200 servicemen and women of the German armed forces to guard approximately 80 US bases on request of the USA in order to relieve the US army. The respective US forces were able to be transferred to Iraq. Up until December 2005, around 500 German soldiers were still on assignment. By increasing the German NATO and EU contingents in the military operations in Bosnia and Afghanistan, capacities of the US army were relieved and able to be deployed in Iraq.

4. Provision of Airspace

In addition, German airspace was made available for attacks on Iraq by the Federal Government. The heavy B-52 bombers of the US Airforce departed to attack from Great Britain, but were re-fuelled on the way to Iraq by tanker aircraft also stationed in Germany and, in doing so, also passed through German airspace. Without the permission of the German Federal Government, this would not have been possible.

5. US Bases used for Logistical Organisation of Wounded Soldiers.

The town of Landstuhl, which lies in the vicinity of the largest US base in Europe, Ramstein, was and is the medical centre, which treated military servicemen and women injured in Iraq. Many hundreds of injured soldiers were flown here for treatment.

6. Atomic, Biological and Chemical Defense Tanks in Kuwait

Approximately 250 German army soldiers, which had been stationed in Kuwait with six atomic, biological and chemical defence tanks since early 2002. The explanation for this, was the protection of the Kuwaiti population from the feared attacks of Iraq with biological and chemical weapons. The atomic, biological and chemical defence specialists were not withdrawn during the bombings, they were even put into action. After Iraqi missile attacks German soldiers conducted regular checks for weapons in the area.

7. AWACS Aircraft

Additionally, the Germans participated in AWACS flights. Soldiers of the German Armed Forces sat in AWACS warning planes, that were stationed in Turkey in the lead up to the then approaching Iraq war. The AWACS aircraft could function as "fire control centres" and lead bomber units and fighter planes to attack, and so directly took part in warfare. Little known is that around a third of the AWACS occupation was undertaken by the German Airforce. Without the German specialists, the AWACS operation would have been impossible, or at least considerably more difficult. The commander of the AWACS combat troop, acting in the NATO coalition and stationed in Geilenkirchen (Germany) was a German General.

8. Batteries for Patriot Missile Air Defense System

Even the deliveries of highly modern Patriot batteries to Turkey, as desired by the USA, were able to be executed. The trick: the German Armed Forces delivered the relevant weaponry system to the Netherlands, who in turn stationed their own Patriot missiles in Turkey.

9. Training of Iraqi Forces

After the Iraq war officially ended, or better put, after the end of the bombings, the German Armed Forces took part in the training of Iraqi forces in the Arab Emirates. They also left their equipment for the Iraqi forces at the end of the operation.

10. NATO Troops Statute No Justification

There can be no talk of a "neutrality" on the part of the Federal Government in the Iraq war. The Supreme Administrative Court in Leipzig found in the judgement of the case of Army Major Florian Pfaff in 2005, that according to the Hague Convention of 1907 - the so-called Hague Land Warfare Convention - supportive deliveries to parties participating in conflict must be prevented. Also, the permission for the use of airspace is unacceptable. The judge found the general reference of the Federal Government to the NATO treaties to be unsound. There is no justification for the use of German ground and airspace or the US military bases in Germany for the preparation and implementation of a military strike against Iraq. These treaties do not restrict the right of the Federal Government, to ban the use of its harbours and airports, its airspace or of the military bases made available to the USA for a military strike against Iraq. On the contrary, the supplementary treaty of the NATO Troops Statute of 1994 shows in detail, that the German Federal Government held political and legal sovereignty. The utilisation of German territory by the USA remained the choice of the sole sovereign decision-making authority of Germany. Major Florian Pfaff, who refused to continue to assist in the Iraq war as a computer specialist, was declared right in rejecting the German support of this war, which violates international law.

The SPD-Green Government carried out a dual strategy in relation to the Iraq war. On the one hand, the Government spoke out against the war, and yet on the other, made it possible by supporting it extensively. The US military found the concept for it: "non-coalition, but co-operating."

Germany participated in the Iraq war by way of extensive support. This knowledge can now be used to spread effective awareness about the stages of escalation leading up to a war against Iran. Germany now stands to participate in the next war - an attack on Iran. Everything must be done now in order to prevent this.

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